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Premier Institution AIIMS Bhopal: No Facility For Mental Health Patients

An institution with national importance, AIIMS Bhopal is shutting down its OPD owing to zero patient turnout this year as opposed 8,452 in the previous year.

Premier Institution AIIMS Bhopal: No Facility For Mental Health Patients

AIIMS Bhopal likely to shut down its mental health department

According to a medical report, there are around 15 crore people who suffer from mental health disorders but the low number of medical facilities across the country are not adequate to cater to them. While the private institutions charge hefty amounts for treatment of cognitive disorders, many of the medical institutions run by the government are almost at the brink of closing down their mental health departments. The recent medical reports from AIIMS Bhopal says that for over 19 months, the hospital did not see a single mental health patient. In May 2015, AIIMS Bhopal shut down its OPD for such patients.

Contrary to the figures reported this year, the mental health department attended to around 8,452 patients since 2013 and at least 15 patients a day in its last month. One of the main reasons for this surprising drop-down is because many professors quit and shifted to other institutions.

Adding further to the worsening situation, AIIMS Bhopal, yet to get a full-time director, has filled only 73 out of 327 sanctioned slots for senior resident doctors and has around 80 per cent of faculty posts lying vacant.

"Can you imagine AIIMS shutting down its mental healthcare services? In March 2015 alone, the institution attended to 1,059 patients. But within the next two months, the services were shut. In December 2016, one doctor was recruited, but that was a resident doctor and not a full-fledged faculty," says a senior consultant with AIIMS Bhopal.

Showing resentment against the deteriorating situation of AIIMS, the consultant said- "For almost 15 months, patients had to be referred to other hospitals in the state or outside. When is the last time you have heard AIIMS referring patients? AIIMS is supposed to be the country's top referral centre."

Out of 41 Departments, only 25 functional

According to official records, AIIMS Bhopal had 27 departments till March 2014 with 61 faculty members and now the institute has only 25 as functional ones out of the 41 departments. According to Prof Nitin Madhusudan Nagarkar, "(It) Will take time for AIIMS Bhopal to become a brand."

Not just the mental health department, there are other departments also which are met with the same fate. Some of them include- Cardiovascular department, Oncology Department and Radio therapy department. Apart from this, AIIMS Bhopal is yet to open key departments such as cardiology, nephrology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, urology and nuclear medicine.

Lack of basic infrastructure

As reported by the doctors still in action at the institution, the main reason behind this worrisome scenario is the inadequate infrastructure. "We ask patients to visit private facilities and come back to us. A single person cannot handle such a load and when this person is on leave, the department comes to a standstill," says the resident doctor.

This inadequacy, according to doctors, alludes to non-availability of services. "Being an institute of national importance, we should have started cataract surgery by now under the national program for control of blindness. But since 2015, the department has performed only minor surgeries and no major surgery," says the doctor.

Medical Students Neglected

The teaching program at the center is also not something to applaud. Students complain about "lack of quality teaching, faculty and infrastructure" and the "unacceptable" practice of having to "visit" other colleges to complete their clinical training.

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"For example, at one point of time, there was no faculty in general surgery and cases were referred to a private hospital. During that period, we could hardly attend to any patient here. We are basically trained to be clinicians. But since we refer patients, we attend to only minor cases," says the student.


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